The kidney represents one leg of the tripod of life, to quote an old analogy long used in physiology, because the persistence of its function is indispensable to the maintenance of health in the higher organisms. Experience has demonstrated that all of the mechanisms of the body which have important activities to perform are endowed with large "factors of safety"; that is, they can, without detriment, carry a load far greater than that which is customarily expected of them. Even a greatly fatigued muscle group can be spurred up to an enormous final effort without danger, or at least without frequent damage. How about the capacity of the kidney to increase its work? It is an everyday experience in surgical cases of nephrectomy to see one kidney perform the duties that were previously exercised by two; in other words, the work of the kidney may easily be doubled without detriment.
THE EXCRETORY CAPACITY OF THE NORMAL KIDNEY. JAMA. 1918;71(2):122–123. doi:https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.1918.02600280044013
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